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Akhil Gogoi rules out ‘Maoist’ links, calls arrest ‘ploy to delegitimise movement’ against citizenship law

"I have never been with Maoists, am not with them, and will never be with them in the future too. It’s a ploy to delegitimise the people’s uprising and derail the movement. This has been done to alienate the progressive elements of the movement and destroy it,” said Gogoi.

akhil gogoi, citizenship act protests, CAB protests, assam protests, assam bandh, assam police, assam maoists Akhil Gogoi Advisor of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (Express photo by Dasarath Deka/File)

Charges against him of being a Maoist are “totally false” and he was never with “them”, prominent Assam activist Akhil Gogoi told The Indian Express on Tuesday moments before he was sent to 10-day NIA custody by a special court in Guwahati after being arrested under charges relating to sedition and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act during widespread violent protests against the citizenship law in the state.

“I have never been with Maoists, am not with them, and will never be with them in the future too. It’s a ploy to delegitimise the people’s uprising and derail the movement. This has been done to alienate the progressive elements of the movement and destroy it,” said Gogoi.

Gogoi, around 45, heads the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, (KMSS), which had been one of the organisations instrumental in organising anti-CAB protests across Assam. Earlier, the body has protested against land and farmers’ issues in Assam and raised their voice against proposed big dam projects in the state. In the last two years, Gogoi has been booked twice for sedition by Assam police — on both occasions after inflammatory speeches regarding the CAB. He has been arrested earlier multiple times by both the Congress and the BJP regime in the state.

Gogoi, who was arrested in last week Jorhat, said he was “subjected to very inhumane treatment” and has suffered “great mental and physical torture”. He has been booked under Sections 120 B , 124 A, 153 A and B, and 18/39 of the UA(P)A, according to his lawyers.

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Accusing him of being involved in “terrorist activities”, the FIR alleges that Gogoi and “others have used passage of CAB in Parliament as an opportunity to promote enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, piece of birth, residence, language and done acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, using visible representations and spoken words, thus endangering the security and sovereignty of the State and which is prejudicial to national Integration”.

Addressing reporters outside the Special NIA court, Assam’s Additional DGP (L&O) GP Singh said, “Over the period, we had inputs that Akhil Gogoi, his associates and some unidentified persons have been working in close coordination with Maoists trying to spread the Maoist functioning in the state of Assam. We also had inputs that they were behind the conspiracy that led to the recent violence in Assam. As part of that violence we registered a case and since provisions of UA(P)A were incorporated in the case, we forwarded it to NIA as per procedure. After due diligence, the NIA found it fit for investigation.”

But Gogoi denied any such allegations of violence, adding that he was not even in Guwahati, the epicentre of the recent street clashes and violence. Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, “During that period, I was in Sivasagar, Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia and all the protests I was part of took place outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office and I ensured that people stayed non-violent, but protest and protest hard.”

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Asked why he thinks he and his associates and reportedly several members of the KMSS are being arrested or detained, Gogoi said, “This has been done to convert a genuine people’s uprising to a farcical movement so that nothing concrete can come out of this. And for that they have cracked down on all the progressive elements in the protests. It is not that just I have been targeted, but they gone after the media that is not toeing their line.”

Gogoi said, “Anyone who has called the[CA] Act unconstitutional, communal and unlawful, and has provided a framework that could help the Assamese people fulfil their aspirations in the future have been targeted. But people who are helping the government quell the movement and people who are using the movement as a safety valve are being spared.”

On being booked under stringent laws, Gogoi said, “They see a genuinely progressive strand in us and are scared that we represent the aspirations of the Assamese people. Our movement was on its way to offer an alternative to the current system to the people. The government basically doesn’t want an alternative politics that counters the communal fascist regime to emerge.”

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The movement against the amended citizenship laws in Assam can now go “two ways”, said Gogoi. “There are two possibilities and as things stand now, it can go both ways: either it can flourish into a genuine people’s movement or it can turn into a state-sponsored movement. I have only one appeal: I urge people not to be part of the state-sponsored movement,” said Gogoi.

First published on: 18-12-2019 at 10:11:25 am
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